While walking Steven to meet his mother in the parking lot, I listen to him tell a story of his busy weekend. He described a long drive to Long Beach to see his Aunt Connie who lived with her step-mom, Stella. He chatted about the big house with lots of stairs and the fun he had going out to dinner at Bubba Gumps Shrimp with his oldest cousin. As I listen to Steven’s descriptive adventure, I could easily visualize the fun event.
Before Steven hopped in the car, I could not stop smiling and nearly jumped up and down with excitement. I just experienced my first conversation with Steven! Although I had known him for over three years, we had never had a real conversation. Any attempts at small-talk always resulted in one word answers or short, little shrugs. But not on this day…and in the days to come!
What changed for Steven?
Steven’s working memory skills improved!
Having language and learning challenges made it difficult for Steven to communicate. He often struggled to stay on topic, find the right word to use, or understand and follow a simple conversation. When Steven talked, it was often difficult to understand.
Knowing that students with language challenges often have poor working memory, Steven’s improvement made sense to me.
As a result of Steven’s online working memory training, his language skills improved. Steven could now articulate and sequentially remember the family outing with its specific details. In the months to come, I would have the pleasure of many more meaningful conversations with Steven.
Although the working memory training did not solve all of Steven’s language and learning challenges, it did bring him one step closer.